Assignment on Migration and Development: The Case of Bangladesh


International migration plays a vital and indispensable role in the national economy of Bangladesh. Because on the one hand it reduces unemployment and on the other hand it results in remittance flows to the country, which serve as an important but inexpensive source of much needed foreign exchange. In Bangladesh, migration has kept the unemployment rate virtually unchanged since the 1980s, although the growth rate of the labor force is almost twice that of the population growth. The continuous outflow of working age and the accompanying inflow of remittances have played a major role in keeping the unemployment rate stable. Migration, therefore eased the pressure of alternative employment creation on successive governments.
Background
 Nature and Extent of International Employment
2.1 Scale
According to BMET data, from 1976 to January 2006, 4.55 million Bangladeshis have gone abroad as short term-migrants.[1] Since 1976, there has been as steady increase in the flow of migration every year except declining trends in the years 1994, 2000, and 2001, since 2002, however, the number of short term labor migrants is again rising.

2.2 Sex ratio
Up to 2003 there were restrictions and bans on migration of unskilled and semi-skilled women from Bangladesh. Therefore, most of the unskilled and semi-skilled women workers migrated through unofficial channel. Of the total 2,082,270 workers formally migrated overseas from 1991 to 1999, only 13,544-less than 1 percent- were women. Once restrictions were relaxed, the number of female, migrating to formal channel increased significantly. Female migrants constituted 6% of total flow of 2006.
Number and Percentage of Women Migrants in Comparison to Total Flow[2]

      Year
              Women Migrants
Total number
(male and female)
Number
% of total
1991-95
9308
0.98
953632
1996
1567
0.74
211714
1997
1762
0.76
231077
1998
939
0.35
267667
1999
366
0.14
268182
2000
454
0.20
222686
2001
659
0.35
188965
2002
1217
0.54
225256






2.3 Destinations
Presently Bangladeshis are working in more than 100 countries spread over five continents, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America. Most of the contract migrant goes to the Gulf and South East Asian countries. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Libya, Bahrain, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong kong, Brunei are some of the major destination countries. Saudia Arabia alone to account for nearly one half of the total number of migrant workers from Bangladesh. Now its share has reduced to 30-35%.

distribution of annual labor outflows of Bangladeshi workers for overseas temporary-contact employment by country of destination: 1976-2006.[3]
year
k.S.A
(%)
Kuwait(%)
U.A.E
(%)
Qatar(%)
Libya

Bahrain (%)
Oman
(%)
Malay
Sia (%
Korea (s) (%)
S.pore
(%)
Others(%)

total
1976-80
17.656
10.726
29.628
10.638
7.696
4.722
11.91
0.024
0.00
0.372
4.698
92207
1981-85
35.644
13.454
12.49
8.712
5.316
4.082
17.406
0.008
0.00
1.2
1.69
271442
1986-90
47.79
11.664
14.496
8.732
2.902
4.298
8.654
0.522
0.00
0.208
0.738
398295
1991-95
47.958
13.226
7.072
1.134
0.794
2.318
10.168
15.918
0.53
0.714
0.166
947507
1996
35.10
10.16
11.49
0.05
0.95
1.81
4.19
32.16
1.33
2.56
0.18
207193
1997
46.50
9.22
23.88
0.82
0.84
2.19
2.61
1.24
0.39
11.96
0.35
229113
1998
59.65
9.56
14.58
2.56
0.47
2.64
1.80
0.21
0.22
8.17
0.16
266083
1999
69.35
8.36
12.08
2.10
0.65
1.73
1.51
0.00
0.56
3.58
0.08
267823
2000
65.44
0.27
15.40
0.65
0.46
2.10
2.38
7.80
0.45
5.02
0.04
220995
2001
73.89
2.88
8.75
0.12
0.24
2.35
2.46
2.65
0.84
5.18
0.64
185735
2002
73.19
7.07
11.41
0.25
0.71
2.43
1.73
0.04
0.01
3.07
0.09
223074
2003
64.69
10.66
14.90
0.04
1.14
2.99
1.61
0.01
1.50
2.12
0.34
250610
2004
54.85
16.22
18.55
0.50
0.24
3.63
1.75
0.09
0.08
2.74
1.35
253465
2005
35.59
20.81
27.42
0.94
0.43
4.74
2.14
1.29
0.10
4.27
2.28
225994
2006
30.95
10.11
36.79
2.18
0.03
4.64
2.29
5.83
0.28
5.72
1.18
351079

2.4 Skill composition
BMET has classified migrants into four categories: professional, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled. Doctors, engineers, teachers and nurses are considered professionals. Manufacturing or garment workers, drivers, computer operators and electricians are considered as skilled, while tailors and masons as semi-skilled. Housemaids, agro-laborer, hotel boy and menial labourers are considered unskilled workers. During the early years of labor migration, the proportion of professional and skilled workers was higher than that of semi=skilled and un-skilled workers. In recent times, however, semi-skilled and un-skilled workers make up the majority of the migrants.
Skill composition of the labor outflows[4]
year
Professional(%)
Skilled(%)
Semiskilled(%)
Unskilled(%)
Total
1976-80
11.314
35.05
6.262
47.372
99189
1981-85
4.846
34.33
7.59
53.234
312177
1986-90
4.232
36.02
15.95
43.80
416334
1991-95
4.922
30.56
21.55
42.964
953632
1996
1.51
30.37
16.38
51.74
211714
1997
1.64
28.22
18.85
51.29
231077
1998
3.58
27.91
19.27
49.23
267667
1999
3.00
36.71
16.76
43.53
268182
2000
4.79
44.73
11.88
38.60
222686
2001
3.14
22.62
16.25
57.99
188965
2002
6.41
24.98
15.99
52.61
225256
2003
6.24
29.32
11.50
52.94
254190
2004
4.47
40.36
10.38
44.79
272958
2005
0.77
44.98
9.71
44.54
252702
2006
0.11
3.34
86.88
9.66
818085
Total
176445
1382707
656786
1960791
4176729
3. Migration and Development Link in Bangladesh
3.1 Macro-economic Development
The impacts of remittances are not only limited at the household level. It has also a significant impact on the overall economy of the country. Because, high levels and/or large increases in remittance flows can have direct as well as indirect repercussions on the macro-economy which help to promote macro-economic stability.

3.1.1 Significant Source of Foreign Exchange
At a macro level, major development impacts of labour migration are calculated in terms of remittance and employment. In the fiscal year 2006-07, Bangladesh received US$ 5.97 Billion remittance from all over the world. Bangladesh has been ranked as the 7th largest recipients of remittance among 70 developing countries. India ranked as the 2nd largest recipient but, in relation to total population size, per capita remittances received by Bangladesh were 33% higher than that of India. World Bank estimated remittance inflows have helped Bangladesh to cut poverty by 6%. Currently, garments manufacturing sector is treated as the highest foreign exchange earning sector of the country. However, net earning from the garments is half of the stated amount as another half is the cost of raw materials import. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, worker remittance is the highest foreign exchange earning sector of Bangladesh.

Year Wise Remittance Flows[5]
Year
Amount (in million US$)
1998-1999
1705.74
1999-2000
1949.32
2000-2001
1882.1
2001-2002
2501.13
2002-2003
3061.97
2003-2004
3371.97
2004-2005
3848.29
2005-2006
4427.23
2006-2007
5978.47
2007-2008
7914.78
2008-2009(October)
2985.32

3.1.2 Financing the Import of Essential Goods
Remittances are used for financing the import of capital goods and raw materials for industrial development. The steady flow of remittances has resolved foreign exchange constraints, improved the balance of payments and helped increase the supply of national savings.

3.1.3 Contribution to GDP and Development Budget
The contribution of remittance to GDP was 7.73% in 2005-06. Remittances also constitute an important income source for the country’s development budget. In the years of 1990’s, its contribution was more than 50%.[6] The government of Bangladesh considers foreign aid as an important resource base for the development. In 2006, it received US$ 1.7 million as foreign aid. But, remittance received in 2006 was thrice of this amount.

3.1.4 Creation of International and Domestic Employment
Creation of employment for its working age of population is a major task of successive governments. Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) data show that from 1976 to July 2007, the total number of Bangladeshis working abroad as short term migrants stand at 4.55 million. It indicates a yearly average flow of around 200,000 and 250,000. A large number of Bangladeshis also believed to have migrated show irregular process. They are not included in the figure. This indicates that migration has created international employment for a large number of Bangladeshis.

Along with direct employment, migration has also contributed to the creation of employment indirectly. Demand for better management of migration has created jobs in the public sector. This has led to the creation of new ministry with a state minister, secretary and associated stuff, as well as the line agency of the government, the BMET and 48 skilled training centers employing more than 1000 personnel. The movement of the migrants also has relevance in determining the size of the ministries of foreign affairs, civil aviation, customs and immigration departments. Use of air services by the migrants of Bangladesh play a major role in keeping Biman, the Bangladeshi airlines viable. A powerful private sector has emerged centering around the processing of migration. It accounts for another 2 million domestic employment covering private recruiting agencies, their agents and sub-agents travel agencies, medical centers, inter-state transportation owners and workers.
3.2 Migration and Development at Micro Level
At the micro level, migration has a substantial empowering impact on majority migrant individuals and their households. Staying without guardians in a new environment, negotiating with harsh work condition develops certain independent decision making capacity among majority migrants. Upon return, many of them emerged as natural leaders taking part in the local school and college committees, infrastructure development of local community and local level administrative bodies. Migration of the male members of the households has created opportunity for a section of left behind female spouses to participate in previously male dominated spheres of household management.

Siddiqui and Abrar (2003) provided some qualitative evidence which negates traditional knowledge of conspicuous use of remittance by family. They presented that families’ use of remittance in household consumption resulted in higher nutritional level of young members. Compared to non-migrants, they availed quality health services and provided better educational opportunity to the young members. These findings indicate better human resource development in the migrant families with remittance. It is also obvious that the family members of the migrants have used a significant portion of the remittance in generating income and employment. Migrants use a major portion of remittances in agricultural land purchase, in releasing or taking mortgage of land for cultivation, investing in micro and small enterprises, in savings, bonds and insurance and in financing migration of other household members. Besides, capacities of buying consumable items of the migrant families help to sustain local small businesses and producers.

3.2.1 Home Construction/Repair
The use of remittance for home construction/repair is a common scenario of Bangladesh. From the following table it is obvious that the tendency among the remittance receiving households to use remittance for the purpose of home construction or repair is widespread.
use of remittance for home construction/repair

No of respondents
%
yes
39
78
no
11
22
Total
50
100
The above stated data show that 78% of the respondents have consented that they have used the remittance money for the constructing or repairing their houses. Such trends suggest the willingness of the migrant and their families to improve the living condition by investing more money behind this purpose. As a result, a kind of changes has taken place regarding the nature of housing among the remittance receiving families. This is obvious from the following table:

 nature of housing before migration and at present.
Type
Before
After
Pucca
5
8
Semi-Pucca
4
9
Tin
14
21
Semi-Kutcha
19
10
Kutcha
8
2
Total
50
50

The above stated table indicates the pattern of housing that the migrants and their families had prior migration and the changes that have taken place in the nature of housing after migration. Indeed investment in home construction and repair is reflected on the type of homestead of these families. These families owed five types of houses: pucca(brick house with concrete floor and roof), semi-pucca(brick house with tin roof and concrete floor), tin(tin structure with concrete floor), semi-kutcha(earh floor, sides with tin and roof with tin or thatched) and kutcha(mud floor, sides with mud or bamboo, roof either tin or thatched). The table indicates the trend of improvement regarding the nature of homestead structure. For example, before, 8 of the respondents used to live in kutcha house,but currently 2 of them live in this type of house. Besides, 19 of the respondents used to live in semi-kutcha houses, but at present the number of families living in this type of house has reduced to 10. However, 14 of the respondents used to live in tin-shed houses, whereas the number of families having this form of housing at present has increased to 21. There is also an increasing trend in the form of brick-built house. Because, 4 of the respondents used to own semi-pucca homestead, now the number has increased to 9. Finally 5 of the respondents used to own pucca house prior migration whereas the number has increased to 8 at present. It has also become obvious from the survey  that although in many cases the type of household remain the same, but the respondents have renovated them and invested a significant proportion of money for this purpose.



Case study-1
Jamil Mahmud has a large family consisting of 12 members. But, he did not have enough accommodation for his large family. Because, he had a tiny house which was also built by mud. Six years ago he sent one of his sons to Saudia Arabia. He works there as a construction worker. He earns taka 20000 per month. After six years of sending his son to abroad, Jamil Mahmud is now constructing a new brick-built house. He said that since the departure of his son to abroad, every year he used to save a particular amount of money from the remittance money for this purpose. Besides, this year, before constructing the work, his son sent taka 2 Lakh to construct the house. Like the family of Jamil Mahmud, many families have been found during the survey who have built their houses from the remittance money of the family members.
                   
However, construction of house is not seen by many as productive venture. This is because such an investment is seen more in terms of improved economic status rather than avenue of economic activity. Nevertheless, home construction may be seen as durable asset, which does not have exchange value. Investment in house can also be treated having potential for migrant worker as it can be used as collateral if he/she wants to borrow for investment purpose from banking or MFI sources.



3.2.2 Land size before migration and at present
The table below shows that some changes have occurred in landholding patterns of the migrant remittance receiving households.
 
average land size before migration and at present
     Situation
Land Size(in decimals)
      Before migration
85.90
      At present
104.50
The aforementioned table indicates that migration has a positive impact on the land size of the remittance receiving households. However, investment of remittance in land purchase is considered by some as unproductive sine it does not add to the country’s productive capacity and also results in inflation. But if it is considered from migrant’s point of view, then, given the shortage of viable avenues of investment, law and order situation and concomitant pressure from the extortionists, land is the safest avenue for remittance utilization. Agricultural land can provide economic return through crop production. Besides, the increasing price of the land also makes it as a lucrative sector for investment as the value of both agricultural and homestead land is likely to increase over time.
Case Study-2
Mohammad liton, a resident of Jagatpur village, Kachua, Chandpur, went abroad 10 years ago. Prior going abroad, he had only 20 decimals of land. However, to manage the cost of going abroad he sold 12 decimals of land. Bur after going abroad, over the years, he invested a large amount of money in purchasing land. Now, he is the owner of 250 decimals of land. He purchased the land gradually. He mentioned that every year, after going abroad, he purchased around 20 decimals of land on an average. He invested large sums of money behind purchasing land because he thinks having enough land is very crucial to lead a stable life. Because, on the one hand, by cultivating land he can produce foods which besides fulfilling his family needs, can also be sold at the local market. Besides, as the demand for land increases every year so the price also goes up’.

However, in the rural areas, the use of remittance in releasing mortgaged land is also significant because it re-establishes the right of the person to cultivate in the land and thereby ensures the food security as well as future survival. The social esteem of the family concerned is also increased in this way. Because, in the rural area, the person who belongs more land can exert more authority in various social activities. Indeed, in the rural areas, land has become the symbol of social status.

3.2.3 Repayment of Loan
Before migration, most of the respondents were under economic hardships. They chose the path of migration with a view to enjoying a better life in the future. But the task was not an easy one because the cost associated with the process of migration was significant. In such situation, a major part of the respondents managed the cost through borrowing money. So after departure, initially, they emphasized on paying off the debts. As a result, as long as the remittance commenced to flow, migrant families started to reduce the burden of the loan. This is obvious from the following table:

Repayment of loan incurred for migration
Response
Number of Responses
Percentage (%)
Yes
19
38
No
3
6
Partially
24
48
Not applicable
4
8
Total
50
100
The aforementioned table indicates that 38 % of the respondents have paid back the total loan taken for the purpose of migration, 48% repaid partially and only 6% could not repay their loan at all. The rest of the respondents (8%) did not take any loan in the first place. To repay the loan, initially, the families of the migrant had to spend a significant amount of the remittances into the repayment of the loan. The respondents who repaid the loan completely mentioned that in first three years they spent almost 50 % of the remittances to repay the loan. The respondents who repaid the loan partially said that they have spent around 20-25% of the remittances in the repayment of loan in the last few years. On the other hand, the respondents who have completely failed to repay the loan have mentioned that they have failed to repay the loan because their migrant family members are yet to find any suitable jobs and staying in adverse situation.

3.2.4 Food and Cloth
There are five basic needs of human being of which food and cloth are very crucial. Because, food is very much related with the survival of an individual and cloth determines one’s personality and social status. For this reason, people are always aware to fulfill these needs. Likewise, the migrants’ families also use the bulk of the remittance money for this purpose. This is obvious from the following table:
Use of the remittance for the purpose of consumption.
Response
Total no.
%
yes
48
96
No.
2
4
Total
50
100
From the above stated data, it is obvious that the 96% of the respondents have mentioned that they use the remittance to bear the cost of consumption. At first sight, it might seem that as the remittances are used behind consumption, so it does not have any development impact. But, such an assumption is not valid in all cases. Because, with the increases in consumption, the demands for goods also increase which can result in greater productivity and the expansion of market. Besides, it also has significant impact on the local business community. For example, while talking to some local businessmen, they mentioned that the outflow of people to abroad in the last five years has helped to boost their business because of growing capacity of the migrant families in buying goods. In this way, the increasing consumption of the migrants’ family has a positive impact on the wider community.

3.2.5 Medical Treatment
There is a saying that health is the root of all happiness. One needs to have a sound health to lead a stable life. But, most people of Bangladesh are suffered by ill-health and this has been accentuated due to the lack of medical treatment. The lack of medical treatment is also very much related to one’s economic condition. People of the lower and lower-middle class family rarely get proper medical treatment because of their economic hardships. But, the picture of remittance receiving families contrast to this scenario. It has come into light from the survey that the members of remittance receiving families enjoy better medical treatment and they also spend a considerable amount of money behind this purpose.

The use of remittance for the medical treatment
Response
Number of Responses
%
yes
33
66
no
6
12
Not applicable
11
22
Total
50
100

The above stated table indicates that 66% of the remittance receiving households has used the remittance money for the medical purpose. Spending money in this way is not unproductive at all. Rather, they are very much related with the notion of development. Because, if we think about human development, the enjoyment of proper medical treatment is a must without which the process of development will be hampered. Because, improving the condition of the human being is the main motto of every aspect of development.
  
3.2.6 Child Education
Education is conceived as the backbone of a nation. Without education, true development can never be taken place. If we look into the most developed countries of the world, we will observe that the literacy rate of those countries is nearly 100 percent .But, in Bangladesh the picture is frustrating particularly in rural areas. Due to the economic hardships, child labour has increased significantly which resulted in an increasing trend of dropout of children at the primary and secondary level. But, the picture is somewhat different in the remittance receiving families. Such families are more willing to educate their children in better institution. While talking to such family they have mentioned that they consider the use of remittance for education as a more productive task.
use of remittance for education.
Response
No of Responses
%
yes
39
78
no
0
0
Not applicable
11
22
Total
50
100
The above stated table indicates that most of the respondents have used remittance to educate their children or other family members.

4.3.2.7 Business Investment
The remittance is not only used for consumption, medical treatment and education but also for investment purpose. Indeed, there is a growing awareness among the remittance receiving households to use the money in productive sector. Because they think, remittance will not flow indefinitely as their family members have gone abroad only for short term. So they consider the remittance money as an asset for future survival. For this reason, they have become very conscious about the use of such money. They prefer different productive sector for investing money of which business is one of them. Some of the respondents have invested the remittance money in the business sector because they consider the business as a fruitful venture through which they can earn more money. This is apparent from the following table:

                          Investment in Business
Response
Number of Responses
%
yes
11
22
no
39
78
Total
50
100

From the aforementioned table it is obvious that 22% of the respondents have invested the remittance money in running business whereas the majority of the respondents consisting 78% did not choose this sector. This people disclosed their reluctance to invest in business sector because they consider business as a vulnerable sector due to the risk associated with it. However, the people who invested the money in business run different kinds of business. This is obvious from the following table:

Investment of Remittance Money in Different Kinds of Business
Kinds of business
Total no.
Stationary store
4
Tailoring shop
2
Medicine shop
1
Agricultural related trading
1
Others
3
Total
11
So among the 11 person who have invested the remittance money in business, a majority of them run stationary stores. Some people have also chosen other types of business such as agricultural related trading, tailoring shop, medicine shop and so on. However, this people have given a mixed reaction about the viability of business sector for the use of remittance. This is obvious from the following table:
Response regarding the viability of the business sector for the investment
Response
Total no.
Profitable
3
Partialy profitable
6
Not profitable
2
Total
11

       The above stated table indicates that the people who have invested the remittance money in business are not benefited in the same way. 3 of the respondents have mentioned that they have been getting benefit according to their expectation by investing money in business. But 6 of the respondents mentioned that investment in business is not the safest avenue and they are not getting benefits according to their expectation as the demand in the market always fluctuates. However, the remaining two respondents replied completely negatively.

3.2.8 Social Ceremonies
The use of remittance in the social ceremonies is significant in the rural areas. The remittance receiving families have shown more willingness to use their money in such cases. This is obvious from the following table:
Use of remittance in social ceremonies
Response
Total No.
%
yes
46
92
no
1
2
Not applicable
3
6
Total
50
100
The above stated table indicates that most of the respondents (92%) have given the positive response about the use of remittance in social ceremonies. They use such money in different types of occasion such as wedding, religious festivals, naming of the child, cultural programmes’ etc. Among these, the highest portion has been spent in weddings of family members of the remittance sender. In few instances, migrants’ spent a lot of money in their own weddings. However, they also provide assistance to the wedding of the poor families of the society. Slaughtering cows during Eid is another avenue of spending. It has been apparent during the field study that the social status of the family is associated with the size and the price of the cow. Finally, they also contribute to organize various cultural programmes in the society. Indeed, the use of remittance in various social occasions has a far-reaching impact on the society. Because, social ceremonies help to curb cleavages in the society and thereby, strengthen the ties among the members of the society. In this way, it helps to promote social integration which has a great implication in the in the context of development.

3.2.9 Community Development Activities
The involvement of migrants in the community development activities is higher than the non-migrants. It has been apparent during the field study that most of the respondents contribute financially in various social developmental activities. This is evident from the following table:

Involvement of the migrants/their households in the community development activities
Response
Total No.
%
yes
39
78
no
11
22
Total
50
100
From the aforementioned table it is apparent that 78% of the migrants’ and their family responded positively regarding the participation in community development activities. Indeed they have shown eagerness to such activities because they have considered it as a means of increasing social acceptance and prestige. It has been apparent as extremely true during the field visit as the
Case Study-3
Mahmudur Rahman, a resident of the jagatpur village, has been staying in Oman for the last 15 years. Initially he worked in a stationary shop. But later, he himself started a small business and now he is in a very good position. With the uplift of his condition, he has also endeavored to uplift the condition of his society. Therefore, in the last 10 years he made a significant contribution in the various development activities of the society. He contributed significantly in building several mosques in his society and the adjacent areas. Presently, the repairing of a mosque near his house is going on. While talking to one of the members of the mosque committee, it has been disclosed by that person that Mahmudur Rahman gave tk.50000 for this task. He also mentioned that when they built the mosque 10 years ago Mahmudur Rahman provided almost 80% of the cost.
               
People of the local area have expressed their satisfaction regarding the role of the migrants’ and their families in various social activities. They contribute to various development activities such as building religious institutions, repairing roads, providing financial assistance to poor people in times of crisis and so on.


[1] www.bmet.org.bd
[2] Tasneem Siddiqui,’ International Labour Migration from Bangladesh: A decent Work Perspective’,(Policy Integration Department, National Policy Group, International Labour Office, Genva, November2005),working paper no.66. p.37
[3] www.bmet.org.bd
[4] www.bmet.org.bd
[5] www.bangladesh-bank.org
[6] Tasneem Siddiqui, op.cit.pp.3-4